Report

Netanyahu Ready to Form Government as Campaign Tensions Persist

On Monday, the head of Israel’s centrist Kulanu Party announced that he will back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The endorsement brings the number of Knesset members supporting Netanyahu above the 61-person threshold to form a government, and President Reuven Rivlin could recommend that the process proceed as early as Wednesday. The tensions stoked by the ...

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On Monday, the head of Israel’s centrist Kulanu Party announced that he will back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The endorsement brings the number of Knesset members supporting Netanyahu above the 61-person threshold to form a government, and President Reuven Rivlin could recommend that the process proceed as early as Wednesday.

The tensions stoked by the election and by some of Netanyahu’s comments during the campaign have continued into a second week. U.S. officials on Monday said that they would refrain from speaking in a hearing on Israel today before the U.N. human rights forum. In his first public remarks on a statement made by Netanyahu on the potential for the establishment of a Palestinian state, President Obama told the Huffington Post on Friday that “We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership, and so that’s why we’ve got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don’t see a chaotic situation in the region.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also urged Netanyahu to reiterate his support for a two-state solution. Sen. John McCain dismissed the tension as a “temper tantrum” by the U.S. administration, and Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz framed the issue as a misunderstanding by Washington. “He [Netanyahu] didn’t say this [statehood] is ‘unacceptable’. He said reality has changed,” Steinitz told Israel Radio.

Islamic State Claims Attacks in Sanaa as Instability Grows

A group purporting to be a Yemeni branch of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings in Sanaa on Friday targeting Shia mosques that killed 142 people and wounded 351. It also claimed responsibility for the deaths of 29 security forces in Lahj Province. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) briefly seized parts of Lahj’s capitol, al-Houta, on Friday, before being pushed back by government troops. The groups are taking advantage of the country’s growing instability. In a speech in Aden on Saturday, President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi rallied his supporters to force the Houthis from power in Sanaa. The Houthis responded by calling for the military to put down what they called Hadi’s “dirty war” against their government. Over the weekend, the Houthis pushed their influence farther south as their troops marched into Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city. Human Rights Watch warned that attacks against journalists in the country have escalated. Citing the deteriorating security of the country, the United States withdrew its remaining personnel from Yemen this weekend, including 125 Special Operations Forces.

Headlines

  • In his Nowruz address, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed that the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran are limited to nuclear issues and pushed back on President Obama’s recent appeal to the Iranian public, which stressed the possibility of rapprochement.

 

  • In a bizarre interview on Saturday, a spokesman for Egypt’s Medical Forensics Authority claimed that an activist killed when hit by birdshot during protests in January “according to science, should not have died,” going on to claim that she was too skinny to sustain shot wounds.

 

  • Syrian rebels, including some affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, captured four members of a government helicopter crew after the aircraft crashed in Idlib Province.

 

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fighting with his government in private and in the press with regards to a plan to form a monitoring committee to oversee the peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

 

  • Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid fired two police chiefs in Tunis today after last week’s deadly attack at the Bardo art museum.

-J. Dana Stuster

Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images

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